You always know when you are entering Tuscany……the surroundings suddenly begin to look sculpted, as if you were walking in a work of art…
Our destination is Grosseto, whose origins can be traced back to the High Middle Ages.
Grosseto was first mentioned in 803 as a fief of the Counts Aldobrandeschi, in a document recording the assignment of the church of St. George to Ildebrando degli Aldobrandeschi, whose successors were counts of the Grossetana Mark until the end of the 12th century.
Grosseto is enchanting, in part, due to the fact that the city is surrounded by ancient Medicean Walls.
The walls embrace this beautiful city and no vehicles are allowed! Peaceful, quiet and simply divine!
Grosseto has a long and turbulent history. In 1137 the city was besieged by German troops, led by duke Henry X of Bavaria, sent by the emperor Lothair III to reinstate his authority over the Aldobrandeschi.
In the following year the bishopric of Roselle was transferred to Grosseto.
In 1151 the citizens swore loyalty to the Siena, and in 1222 the Aldobrandeschi gave the Grossetani the right to have their own podestà, together with three councilors and consuls.
In 1244 the city was reconquered by the Sienese, and its powers, together with all the Aldobrandeschi’s imperial privileges, were transferred to Siena by order of the imperial vicar.
Thereafter Grosseto shared the fortunes of Siena. It became an important stronghold, and the fortress (rocca), the walls and bastions can still be seen today.
In 1266 and in 1355, Grosseto tried in vain to win freedom from the overlordship of Siena. While Guelph and Ghibelline parties struggled for control of that city, Umberto and Aldobrandino Aldobrandeschi tried to regain Grossetto for their family. The Sienese armies were however victorious, and in 1259 they named a podestà from their city. But Grosseto gained its freedom and in the following year and fought alongside the Florentine forces in the Battle of Montaperti.
Over the next 80 years Grosseto was again occupied, ravaged, excommunicated by Pope Clement IV, freed in a republic led by Maria Scozia Tolomei, besieged by emperor Louis IV and by the antipope Nicholas V in 1328, until it finally submitted to its more powerful neighbour, Siena.
The pestilence of 1348 struck Grosseto hard and by 1369 its population had been reduced to some hundred families. Its territory, moreover, was frequently ravaged, notably in 1447 by Alfons V of Sicily and in 1455 by Jacopo Piccinino.
Sienese rule ended in 1559, when Charles V handed over the whole duchy to Cosimo I de Medici, first Grand Duke of Tuscany.
Later you will see that we had the privilege of dining in an ancient Medici building that was an amazing experience.
In 1574 the construction of the Medicean Walls was begun and we are so glad they survived and protect this beautiful city today.
We knew that our visit to Grosseto would include staying at the marvelous Grand Hotel Bastiani
We had stayed here once before and fell in love with the old world charm and elegance of the hotel
It is located just inside the ancient Medicean Walls and on the Piazza Gioberti, in the shadow of the Cathedral of Grosseto…
I do not usually gush on about hotels; however, this one is on the top of the list of our favorites…
A beautiful staircase….
World Class service and an elegant dining room…
Our suite was so very luxurious and comfortable…
…..and nothing……….nothing beats an Italian Breakfast……..nothing….
Okay, enough gushing…………..onto the city….
The Romanesque cathedral, the main monument of the city, is named for its patron St. Lawrence, and was begun at the end of the 13th century, by architect Sozzo Rustichini of Siena.
It was erected over the earlier church of Santa Maria Assunta, it was only finished in the 15th century (mainly due to the continuing struggles against Siena).
The façade of alternate layers of white and black marble is Romanesque in style, but is almost entirely the result of 16th century and 1816–1855 restorations: it retains decorative parts of the original buildings, including Evangelists’ symbols.
The layout consists of a Latin cross, with transept and apse.
The interior has a nave with two aisles, separated by cruciform pilasters. The main artworks are a wondrously carved baptismal font from 1470–1474 and the Madonna delle Grazie by Matteo di Giovanni (1470).
The campanile (bell tower) was finished in 1402, and restored in 1911.
The Church of San Francesco is located on the Omonym Square, it was built in the Middle Ages.
It was an important Benedictine convent, before moving to the Franciscans.
At the center of the cloister stands the characteristic Pozzo della Bufala (Well of the Buffalo) in travertine; another well is located in the square outside the church.
Then there is the Church of San Pietro. the oldest religious building in Grosseto, it was built along the stretch of the Via Aurelia that crossed the center and was originally a plebeian and stational church along the old consular road.
The beautiful Palazzo Aldobrandeschi whose origins are medieval. It is now a Neo-Gothic edifice with ogival mullioned windows and merlons in the upper part of the walls.
It houses the seat of the province of Grosseto. The architect was Lorenzo Porciatti.
The city is filled with marvelous shops and the people are all so relaxed and friendly……………
…..I do believe it is the absence of vehicles!
The weather was perfect during our visit and we enjoyed the moon during the daytime….
As we venture about town we stumble upon an ancient structure whose upper portions have collapsed over the years…
The Ristorante Locanda de Medici de Peccianti…WOW……….we must eat here!
We find the entrance into the ancient Medici cellars that now house this fantastic restaurant…
We learn that these ancient cellars were used as bomb shelters during World War II…..
We venture into a world of culinary delight….
What a charming place and the wine selection……..oh swoon…….
Leonardo, the Chef – Owner waits on us! The pasta is hand made………no machines….
The Cheeses are aromatic and delightful…
the Seafood fresh and delightful…….
What a delightful and enchanting visit we have had here in Grosseto…….now it is off to bed to dream of the rest of the journey ahead….
……….until next time ciao!